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John Belmonte wrote:
> For Japanese, I think in the 50's there was a movement to reduce the
> number "essential characters", likely with the goal of improving the
> literacy rate.  A set of 1,850 characters was adopted by law and
> publications now limit themselves to that set except for proper names,
> as you say.

Yes, it's true that there are 2000 Jouyou Kanji  ,
which means "everyday use chinese characters". 
If you know these characters, you are not illiterate.
However that doesn't mean you have a high degree of
literacy! Those 2000 characters are a legally enforced 
minimum knowledge. Official publications and newspapers 
will limit themselves  to these everyday use Kanji. 
However, Japanese literature does not limit itself 
in this way.  

> If there is a group of Japanese not happy with the unicode situation,
> aren't they free to press for additions to the code set, and to lobby
> their government to produce a complete and freely licensed font to
> preserve their heritage?

The problem is that due to chauvinism, and the way Microsoft has handled
things, those groups are weary of unicode. They see it as a western 
attempt to butcher their language, and deeply mistrust the unicode 
consortium. Like I said before, they even developed their own 
Japanese- centric OS, TRON, that can display the whole range of 
80000 Kanji and then some. Some of the Japanese free font uyou
mention are already available. Problem being that with Unicode, 
you'll only be able to use part of them in a standardized way.
You'll need to use the nonstandard "extension area" of unicode to use 
them fully which is an unpractical situation.

"No one knows true heroes, for they speak not of their greatness." -- 
Daniel Remar.
Björn De Meyer